Any business owner will testify how nervous and worried they can get if suddenly they notice a decrease in sales or conversions, and this is exactly the same for any business that runs with a website and a high-street shop or office, or solely relies on a website.
And of course, naturally so, as if the enquiries dry up, the sales dry up and the income dries up, the future can be a very worrying and challenging prospect. Heads in hands, the bottle of wine looks tempting and you start to predict a bad future in which there is no future and the world seems a very closed, bad and small place. Of course, the panic sets in and then the whole situation can often seem a lot worse than it really is, as rather than panic and hit the eject button, you must take some time to analyse the potential reasons and then deal with them.
If you are new to business and in your first few operational years, things can seem so much worse as you might only have loads of successes to compare things to, and then of course, you might not understand some of the reasons why conversions can drop. Or, if you are an old hat at business, you might just want to understand a bit more, but with less of a panic, as after all, you might well have been here before! Either way, panic causes bigger issues and bad reactions, so therefore it’s important to take a step back before you really start to get worried.
So, let’s look at some reasons your conversions might have gone a bit south.
If you are quite a new business, then you are probably going to be unaware of how trends can hit your bottom line. For example, for some businesses Christmas is a wonder period of sales and success, for others, it dies a death and you may as well stop trading for a week or so (which most service industries actually do!). During the six-week summer school holiday, you will also probably notice a drop and for some, seasonal events are great, some are not so. My point here is that for most businesses there will be slow times during the year, and until you’ve been in the game for 3 or 4 years or so, it will be hard to really recognise this is just the trend or a typically slow part of the year, which can cause unnecessary panic.
Brexit. Donald Trump. School Holidays. Festive Holidays. You name it, it can influence customer decisions. For example, when the banks were nervous about lending, mortgage lenders suffered, estate agents suffered and even those lower in the chain like removal companies suffered as people were slow to buy a new home and it has a huge impact. Therefore, take some time to reflect on world events and see if they might be affecting you, either directly or indirectly, as if this is the case it is often just a need of tightening the belts and riding the storm, as customer confidence always comes back, it might just take a bit of time.
You sell trainers for £40, but your three big competitors now sell them for £30 …. You can see where this is going. It is important to look at the whole market to see why you might have lost some sales or conversions. If you are selling products that a lot of other businesses sell as well, then you need to understand that if your price point is too high and they lower theirs, then the customer will often go with the cheapest, as loyalty online is not massively common these days. If a customer can find a like for like product cheaper elsewhere, they will often go for the cheapest, so always look around to double check your prices are in line with the current market.
Around a year ago, I had a client come to me saying they were seeing a huge reduction in sales, and when they said huge, they were not far wrong. They panicked, they got worried and they really started throwing accusations at everyone they worked with, from their hosts through to their SEO company. So, we got website access, logged in, checked everything and ran a test purchase. And ……… their payment system had corrupted so no one could buy anything online. So, it wasn’t due to SEO, it was not due to their host, in fact it was an issue that they themselves caused when they updated a plugin in WordPress and it failed, causing all payments to not go through. The moral of the story here is to check the obvious, check everything is still working and don’t just assume a third-party partner is to blame, as quite often, it just something simple.
Rankings Drop / Traffic Drop
And this is the one most website owners really fear the most, as if you have been in the top three of Google for a year and then all of a sudden you drop out, you are probably going to notice the impact quite dramatically. Around 90% of people never click past page one of Google, which means dropping just a few places can have a major impact. If your rankings have dropped, then this needs some serious consideration and you also need to give it some time as most of the time ranking fluctuations are short term, not long term, and can be caused be many reasons. Do not panic unless all of your rankings tank, as then you really do need some outside help to look at what’s going on. If some of your key rankings have taken a tumble, let the dust settle and see where you are in a few weeks, as if you make knee jerk reactions and changes, you can often make things so much worse.
Common Marketing Issues
The final one is also something we encountered last year, when we were asked to review an AdWords account as the client was worried that it was no longer performing. So, we gained access, looked at the basics, only to find their credit card had been declined (due to security issues offline) and therefore the account had not been running for a week. As around 50% of their sales came through PPC, you can imagine how this really hit them, but this was something so obvious that so, so many people forget to check. This can go for all paid online marketing methods, so always check the obvious, make sure your campaigns are running correctly if you see a sudden drop in conversions.